Remembering the Legend: Ben “Blink” Hayes

Published 12:46 pm Friday, January 13, 2023

BY C.Y. Peters
Ben “Blink” Hayes was one of Carter County’s best referees in the 50s, 60s and 70s. He was tops in his class and work many big games when all the schools played everyone. There was no single A, double A or triple A teams,  it was all one league and mostly Kingsport was the top team being the largest school.
Every community had a high school, Mary Hughes in Bluff City, Blountville, Lynn View, Ketron, Surgoinsville, Sullivan, and even Carter County, Elk Mills and Watauga. Ben was one of the men who took on the task of refereeing basketball games, and he was one of the best. Many times he teamed up with Billy Bob Garrison and Black Cat Raser, Ralph Stout.
Hayes was an avid sportsman most of his life. He played basketball for Carl Gouge at Happy Valley and was the manager on the 1950 Happy Valley State Championship team for Coach John Treadway.
Ben would also work some football, mainly on the clock, but when Stout was short-handed, Ben filled in. At one time, Hayes stated, “I always wanted to be an official.” “I would call games for Coach Treadway when I was in the eighth grade; I began calling elementary games for Coach Sid Hathaway at Junior High games.”
Hayes’s first official game in high school was between Holston Valley and Holston Institute. Holston Valley won the game in overtime 67-66, that was in 1953 and the game paid seven dollars.  In his career, not only did he get to work many District and Regional games but also worked the State Tournament and several All-Star games.
A car salesman by day and a referee by night, the oldtimers will never forget Ben “Blink” Hayes.

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